I investigated seasonal altitudinal movements of 42 mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) in the Cascade Range of Washington, USA. Because mountain goats typically move to lower elevations during the winter, I partitioned locations from Global Positioning System collars into summer and winter seasons based on elevation. Using an iterative narrowing search, I identified summer and winter start dates for each individual and year and derived several measures of altitudinal movements from these, and examined differences in these measures on the basis of sex and year and their interrelationship. Generally, female mountain goats started summer about 2 weeks earlier than nondispersing males; winter start dates varied among years. Horizontal distance moved between seasons was unrelated to measures of altitudinal movement. Based on elevation, winters were generally longer than summers for mountain goats I studied, suggesting that the common perception of mountain goats as inhabitants of alpine and subalpine terrain is biased, because they spent the greater part of the year at lower elevations. Mountain goats showed a wide range of responses to seasonal environmental changes and individuals cannot be easily classified as migratory or nonmigratory. Because ecological conditions in mountain environments are closely related to elevation and horizontal and altitudinal movements were unrelated, studies of seasonal movements of mountain animals based on horizontal movement may be misleading. Because seasonal altitudinal movements of mountain goats are highly variable, the management needs of each population must be considered separately.
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Vol. 72 • No. 8